Tribute to Shakespeare Opens Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2015-16 Season
September 02, 2015
Grand Rapids Symphony will open its 86th season with “Romeo &
Juliet,” reveling in music inspired by Shakespeare’s immortal plays. Grand
Rapids Symphony Music Advisor Larry Rachleff will lead two performances of “Romeo
& Juliet” on Friday, September 18 and Saturday, September 19, 8:00 p.m. at
DeVos Performance Hall. “Romeo & Juliet” is part of the Richard and Helen DeVos
Classical Series and is supported by Spectrum Health and the Edith I. Blodgett
Guest Artist Fund.
begin the concert, music of comic energy and laughter by Hector Berlioz introduces
an opera based on The Bard’s wittiest comic characters, Beatrice and Benedict. Like
many 19th century composers, Berlioz had a lifelong fascination with
Shakespeare and based several of his compositions on his dramatic works.
Written late in life and based on “Much Ado About Nothing,” the premiere of
Berlioz’s final opera “Béatrice et Bénédict” was a great success. Berlioz wrote
his own libretto, paring down a good deal of Shakespeare’s story. “I have taken
only one subject from the play—the part in which Beatrice and Benedict, who
detest each other, are mutually persuaded of each other’s love, whereby they
are inspired with true passion,” wrote Berlioz to his son.
Camille Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto has no direct connection with Shakespeare,
its headlong energy recalls the great soliloquies delivered by Shakespearean
heroes and heroines. Like many avant-garde composers of the Romantic era, Saint-Saëns
liked to toy with classical form. In his first Cello Concerto, he took the
traditional three movements and collapsed it into a single-movement work. Swedish
cellist Jakob Koranyi joins the Grand Rapids Symphony orchestra to perform the
composer Sergei Prokofiev created one of his greatest works re-envisioning
“Romeo and Juliet” as a ballet. The vivid and evocative music recreates the
story of the doomed, star-crossed lovers, and paints the characters and action
of the drama. The fierce rivalry between the two families can be heard in “Montagues
and Capulets”; the innocence and charm of the female protagonist in “Young
& Juliet” is part of a special three-concert package “Shakespeare and
Symphony.” Three concerts during the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2015-16 season feature
Shakespeare-inspired musical works, and adult tickets to all can be purchased
for $99 ($15 for students). Concerts included in the package are “Romeo &
Juliet,” “The Romantic Concert” on November 6 at St. Cecilia Music Center, and
“Dvorák’s Seventh” on January 29 and 30 at DeVos Performance Hall.
fans are invited to the Symphony’s “Listening to Literature” event on Monday,
September 14, 7:30 p.m. through 9:00 p.m. at the Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.
office. This collaboration with the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company will offer
scene study workshops, bringing “Romeo and Juliet” to life. It is $50 to attend
and includes a concert ticket to “Romeo & Juliet” on September 19. To
register, visit GRSymphony.org/ListeningToLiterature.
Tickets start at $18 and are available at the Symphony office, weekdays 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m., 300 Ottawa NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or
by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket
service fee, with a $12 maximum.) Tickets are available by phone in the evening
and on Saturday by calling 616.885.1241. Tickets are available at the DeVos
Place Box Office, weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or on the day of the concert
beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets may also be purchased
through Ticketmaster, 800.982.2787, online at GRSymphony.org or in person at
Ticketmaster outlets: select D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Stores and
Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include a Ticketmaster
service fee. Full-time
students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of
the concert by enrolling in the Symphony’s Student Passport program. This is a
MySymphony360 eligible concert.
About the Grand Rapids Symphony
The Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized
in 1930 and is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and
educational programs. Led by Music Advisor Larry Rachleff, Principal Pops
Conductor Bob Bernhardt and Associate Conductor John Varineau, nine concert
series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles.
More than 400 performances are presented each year, touching the lives of some
170,000. Nearly half of those who benefit are students, senior citizens and
people with disabilities reached through extensive education and community
service programs. The Symphony’s Affiliated Organizations include the Grand
Rapids Bach Festival, Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony
and Classical Orchestra, and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. The Symphony
also provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet
Company. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony please visit GRSymphony.org.
This activity is supported in part by an award from the Michigan
Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.